- Associated Press - Sunday, March 27, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Bearing Easter cupcakes, the president of the Henry S. Miller Cos. knocked on Ruth Sanders’ door Saturday and offered to stop suing the Alzheimer’s patient if she’d help rescue his company from public outrage.

“Are we idiots for suing them? Yes,” Greg Miller said after the impromptu negotiation - in which he sat in Sanders’ favorite chair, twice threatened to walk out of her living room, and finally grinned for a photo with the 93-year-old woman, who had no idea who he was.

The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/22PYIHa ) reports the heir to a Dallas real estate empire visited the Sanders’ century-old Uptown home around noon with pastries and a plan to snuff out a public relations disaster.

The News reported last week that the brokerage arm of the company was suing Sanders, claiming she owed the company tens of thousands of dollars in brokers’ fees as a result of a failed attempt to sell her house in 2012. A state appeals court sided with the real estate company, and with attorneys’ fees, a judgment against the old woman had swelled to more than $125,000.

Since the news broke, lawyers have been beating down Sanders’ door offering help. At least one protest was taking shape to support her. Even Greg Miller’s brother, Vaughn, wrote to The Dallas Morning News that “I’m embarrassed and ashamed for the members of my family that run HS Miller Co today.”

And by Saturday, the CEO decided enough was enough.

Leena Sanders, Ruth’s daughter, met Greg Miller at the door, took the cupcakes and asked him to come back after she’d called her lawyer.

He returned a few hours later with an assistant. As bar noise from Allen Street drifted into the living room, Greg Miller took a seat. He blamed the 2013 lawsuit on executives who have since left the company.

“It kind of, uh, got set in motion and then kind of took a life of its own,” he told Leena Sanders and her lawyer, Emmanuel Obi. “So anyway, let’s put it behind us.”

Ruth Sanders was still in her bedroom, wondering why her home was full of visitors.

Greg Miller knelt in front of the coffee table near an old photo of a young Ruth Sanders, and scribbled out the terms of his offer on a sheet of printer paper.

“So, one: Drop the lawsuit,” Greg Miller said, writing.

That one was easy.

“No 2,” Greg Miller continued. “If you ever decide to sell at any time in the future, you let us handle the sale for you.”

That sparked some debate. It was Ruth Sanders’ first sales agreement with Henry S. Miller that led to the yearslong legal saga.

“We brought you almost a million-dollar offer last time from 7-Eleven,” Greg Miller pointed out. “We’ve demonstrated our ability to bring you top dollar.”

The problem was that deal fell through. “The listing agreement put us at risk,” Leena Sanders said.

“You breached the contract of sale,” Greg Miller countered, before remembering why he was there. “Let’s just leave the past behind us.”

They agreed.

But Greg Miller’s third condition nearly scuttled the deal.

He wanted a guarantee of good press coverage of their “friendly settlement.”

“That’s not something we control,” Obi pointed out.

Greg Miller shot up from Ruth Sanders’ chair, scooped up his papers and stepped toward the door.

“The damage has been done,” he said. “We’ve been smeared in the press. What motivation do I have now to settle?”

Obi talked Greg Miller into sitting back down, just before Ruth Sanders poked her head into the room.

“Glad to meet you all,” she said, disappearing into the kitchen with Leena Sanders while the lawyers kept haggling.

“Make a statement that says, ‘I don’t hate the Henry S. Miller Co. They’re not the evil bad guy they’ve been portrayed as,” Greg Miller proffered. “Something along those lines.”

They finally agreed that if Henry S. Miller dropped its suit, the Sanders family would help write a friendly press release - exact wording to be determined.

“May I sit in on this dialogue?” Ruth Sanders asked, returning to the living room.

It was over by then, but Greg Miller nearly shouted, “Yes ma’am!” and stood to greet her as his assistant got out a camera. Grinning, Greg Miller stood between Ruth Sanders and her daughter with their signed sheet of paper.

They agreed to work toward a binding contract - and the end of the lawsuit - over the next few days.

“Enjoy the cupcakes! God bless you. Happy Easter!” Greg Miller said on his way out the door, followed by Obi and the rest of the visitors.

Before everyone left, Ruth Sanders made sure to get business cards.

“You never know when you’ll need an attorney,” she said.


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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